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Archive for the ‘Adversity’ Category

This Too Shall Pass

Professor Shnayer Z. Leiman wrote:

“This too shall pass” is an adage that has provided succor for many a person in distress. It is a powerful reminder that life does not stand still, and that one must always anticipate change, hopefully for the better.

Much mystery surrounds this adage. We know almost nothing about its origin, whether in its Hebrew or non-Hebrew versions. Surprisingly, the phrase “this too shall pass” occurs nowhere in Scripture, Talmud, or Midrash.

Indeed, it seems to appear nowhere in all of Jewish literature prior to the nineteenth century. In that century, the phrase was attributed—apparently in non-Jewish sources—to King Solomon.

In the twentieth century, the connection to King Solomon became part of an elaborate legend that was often told, but rarely recorded.

* * *

“This too shall pass” also appears in the works of Persian Sufi poets, such as Sanai and Attar of Nishapur.

Attar records the fable of a powerful king who asks assembled wise men to create a ring that will make him happy when he is sad, and vice versa. After deliberation the sages hand him a simple ring with the words “This too will pass” etched on it, which had the desired effect.

* * *

Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 4:

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

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Good Timber

Good Timber

by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

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Matthew 10:38

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

* * *

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

* * *

2 Nephi 9

[18] But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

* * *

True Happiness

Why does life seem so difficult? Why does there seem to be so much sadness, hate, and unhappiness in the world? Why do the innocent suffer? Why are there so many unhappy people? Many are unhappy because they do not know the plan of salvation; others do not believe the plan of salvation; and others, although they believe, are not willing to pay the price for happiness now and for all eternity. Do you believe in the plan of salvation? Are you willing to pay the price for happiness?

Jacob described those who are willing to pay this price: “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.”

Elder Adhemar Damiani, The Merciful Plan of the Great Creator

* * *

See also: President Thomas S. Monson, Be of Good Cheer

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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I testify that by the Spirit of Christ and by the Holy Ghost, you may walk confidently in whatever difficulties will come. Because you are so valuable, some of your trials may be severe. You need never be discouraged or afraid. The way through difficulties has always been prepared for you, and you will find it if you exercise faith.

– President Henry B. Eyring, Walk in the Light, April 2008

* * *

All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. … Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.

– President Brigham Young

* * *

As you overcome adversity in your life, you will become stronger. Then you will be better able to help others -those who are working, in their turn, to find a safe harbor from the storms that rage about them.

– Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Finding a Safe Harbor”, Ensign, May 2000

* * *

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.

– Elder Orson F. Whitney

* * *

“At the center of our agency is our freedom to form a healthy attitude toward whatever circumstances we are placed in!”
– Elder Neal A. Maxwell

* * *

“Trials and tribulations tend to squeeze the artificiality out of us, leaving the essence of what we really are and clarifying what we really yearn for.”

– Elder Neal A. Maxwell

* * *

“Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.”

President Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98.

* * *

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

* * *

So be glad – yes, actually be glad that you have problems. Be grateful for them as implying that God has confidence in your ability to handle these problems with which He has entrusted you. Adopt this attitude toward problems and it will tend to siphon off the depression that you may have developed from a negative reaction toward them. And as you develop the habit of thinking in hopeful terms about your problems, you will find yourself doing much better with them.

– Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

* * *

What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? “No, thank you,” he will think. “Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these things are things that cannot inspire envy.

Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997)

* * *

Look for God in your difficult place and discover what He’s doing in and through you there.

– Randy Kilgore

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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There have been several times in my life when I needed to make major changes, such as moving to a new neighborhood, starting a new job, etc.

On several occasions, the Lord even forewarned me about upcoming changes in my life using some of the following Biblical principles, although he did not inform me of the specific details.

The warnings came through sermons that I heard on Christian radio stations.

The following example can apply to friendships, neighborhoods, churches, or employment settings.

* * *

People come into our lives for a reason. Maybe we need some sort of help from that person, or perhaps that individual needs some support from us, or the friendship may be mutual and reciprocal.

Then one day, this friend, or maybe a group of friends, turns bitterly against us through no fault of our own.

What does the Bible advise in these situations?

Jesus taught that we must forgive our brother “seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)

The Lord also gave a procedure for resolving conflicts when a brother has sinned against us in Matthew 18:15-18.

We should be peacemakers as Jesus taught. (Matthew 5:9)

But there may be times when we simply need to “move on.” We may need to find new friendships, change jobs, move to a new neighborhood, or join another church.

The Lord may even use these upsetting circumstances to prod us to a new situation where we can have new opportunities for personal growth and for giving service.

* * *

David experienced this when he lived in King Saul’s household. David played his harp to comfort Saul. He also became Saul’s armor-bearer.

But Saul eventually became very jealous of David, and Saul even tried to kill David several times. As a result, David had to escape from Saul.

The following is taken from 1 Samuel 18:

[6] And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music.

[7] And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

[8] And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?

[9] And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

[10] And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.

[11] And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

[12] And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.

Saul offered to let David marry one of his daughters if David would fight the Philistines. He hoped David would be killed by the Philistines. (1 Samuel 18:20–25)

But David survived and was victorious in battle.

Saul continued to seek David’s life. (1 Samuel 19:9–10)

David fled into the wilderness. At one point, he took refuge in a cave in Adullam. (1 Samuel 22:1-3)

David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but did not do so. He exclaimed to Saul:

The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. (1 Samuel 24:12)

The author of this Biblical book then adds commentary: As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. (1 Samuel 24:13)

David had been devestated by the adversity. But the Lord protected David. And the Lord used these circumstances to prepare David himself to become king over Israel and Judah.

Eventually, Saul died in battle.

After Saul’s death, David was anointed king. (2 Samuel 5)

* * *

Some of the verses in Psalms are based on David’s experiences facing adversity.

An example is Psalm 59 where David praises the Lord for delivering him from the hands of his enemies.

[16] But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

[17] Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

* * *

Jesus himself was wounded in the house of his friends. (Zechariah 13:6, Psalm 22:16)

Jesus sought the moral support of his disciples as he gave his great intercessory prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet his disciples slept. (Matthew 26:36-45)

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. (Matthew 26:46-50)

Peter thrice denied even knowing Jesus, even as Jesus was been tried and beaten. (Luke 22:34,54-57)

Yet Jesus forgave them. (Luke 23:34)

Perhaps we can gain a greater appreciation for Christ’s great atoning sacrifice on our behalf when we too are wounded in the house of our friends.

* * *

We have a natural tendency to try to make sense of the wounds that our friends inflict upon us. We are driven to rumination… But we should humbly acknowledge our limited capacity to understand the “big picture.”

As Paul taught:

We see through a glass darkly…

(1 Corinthians 13:12)

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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The Greek philosopher Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

There are far too many people in the world who are careless and who do not accept responsibility for their actions. And there are many who say “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” as the Apostle Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But those of us who are trying to be disciples of Jesus Christ sometimes face a different problem. We may focus too much on our own faults to the point that we become discouraged. Our discouragement then becomes a wedge that separates us from Christ.

Even the prophets and apostles had weaknesses.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Adam then blamed Eve who blamed the serpent. (Genesis 3)

Noah became drunk after he left the ark and had planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9)

Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah, each time claiming that Sarah was merely his sister. (Genesis 12 & 20)

Lot had an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. (Genesis 19)

Jacob played a trick on Isaac in order to get the birthright blessing. (Genesis 27)

Aaron built a golden calf for idol worship. (Exodus 32)

Miriam had a bout of leprosy as punishment for gossiping about Moses’ wife. (Numbers 12)

Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land because he was disrespectful to the Lord when he drew water from the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:8-12)

Gideon made an “ephod” out of the gold won in battle, which caused the whole of Israel again to turn away from God. (Judges 8:26-27)

Jonah at first refused to go to Ninevah. So he was swallowed by a whale. (Jonah 1)

David sinned with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11)

Solomon worshiped the gods of his wives. (1 Kings 11)

Elijah was depressed and asked God to let him die. (1 Kings 19)

Job cursed his own birth. (Job 3)

King Hezekiah showed his treasures to the ambassadors from Babylon. Isaiah then prophesied: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 39)

Zacharias was struck dumb because he doubted the angel Gabriel’s message that he, Zacharias, would be the father of John the Baptist. (Luke 1)

Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons before Jesus cleansed her. (Luke 8:2)

Martha complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was unhelpful with housework. (Luke 10:38-42)

Peter denied knowing Christ three times. (Mark 14)

Nathaniel questioned: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

Thomas doubted that Jesus had been resurrected. (John 20)

Paul (Saul) held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. (Acts 6)

John Mark left Paul and the other missionaries who were traveling to Asia Minor, and he returned to Jerusalem. This caused a break between Paul and Barnabas some time later. (Acts 13 & 15)

Paul confessed:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:15,19)

* * *

Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions, explains that God deliberately chooses human prophets whose mortal nature is apparent, so that
people will not ascribe the miracles they perform to themselves, but rather to
God.

* * *

We all have things in our lives that we must change. I need to be more forgiving and let go of memories of past adverse experiences.

But we must always remember that Jesus Christ loves us, and he is merciful unto us as we turn our hearts toward him.

Let us come before God and humbly acknowledge our weaknesses before him. He will then give us grace and lift us up. (James 4:6 & 10).

May the Lord bless you,
Tom

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Here are some more thoughts on enduring trials and tribulation . . . .

Suffering is universal; how we react to suffering is individual. Suffering can take us one of two ways. It can be a strengthening and purifying experience combined with faith, or it can be a destructive force in our lives if we do not have the faith in the Lord’s atoning sacrifice. The purpose of suffering, however, is to build and strengthen us.

-Elder Robert D. Hales

* * *

President Thomas S. Monson wrote:

“Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”

My friend Raphael wrote, “Even though tough moments abound, our focus is on the crown that awaits all those who will endure.”

“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share His eternal glory in union with Christ, will Himself perfect you and give firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” (I Peter 5:10)

There is more to life than facing hardships, however. There is much joy available even in this troubled world.

The very first verse in the Bible is:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

President Monson also wrote:

“God left the world unfinished; the pictures unpainted,
the songs unsung, and the problems unsolved,
that man might know the joys of creation.”

May you find joy in the creative exercise of your talents, especially as you serve your fellow man.

And may the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon you,

Tom Irvine

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